If you don’t need a car in Rome or Vatican City, I highly recommend you not get one. The city is too busy, too crowded, and there just aren’t enough parking spaces. Rome is an easy walking city and, if you need it, there is a good public transportation system with buses and an underground. The price of a rental car along with paying for parking does not make it an economical option, especially if you are flying into Rome. Just pay for a taxi or take the train from the airport and save yourself the hassle of worrying about a car.
The airport is 32 km (20 miles) southwest of the city so you will need to think about transportation into Rome ahead of time. There are several options, each with its own pros and cons and the costs depend on how much you want to pay, how much convenience you want, and how many are in your group.
For us, we had a pre-arranged driver which was comparable to a taxi. We knew that our hotel was not within easy reach of the train station and until we got our bearings around the city, we didn’t want to be stuck with luggage in the middle of the city. Taxis run around €50 each way – a bit pricey if there are only 1-2 people, but for us it made sense at this point. If there are more people, it may be a cheaper way to go (although only if you don’t have a lot of luggage for your group) once you divide it up between everyone.
Another option is to take the train. There is a direct train running without stops from the airport to the Termini train station in Rome and costs €14/per person/one-way (2013). This will get you into the city center and, depending on where you are staying, it could be an easy walk from there. Look for the “Leonardo Express” train; it takes about 30 minutes to get to the city with this train. From the Termini train station, it is a short walk to the Vatican.
There is another train that goes from the airport to the city which is a little cheaper at €8/person/one-way (2013) but it will take a bit longer since it does make some stops along the way. If you have time and want to save a bit of money, this might be for you. Look for the “Sabina-Fiumicino” (FR1) line. It runs approximately every 15 minutes.
We flew into Rome from Frankfurt, an easy nonstop flight that was relaxing as we did some final reading up on all the things we planned to see while in Rome. As we approached the airport, it was exciting to see the city from above with the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica clearly identifiable from the air.
But don’t be fooled – flying into Rome does not get you into Vatican City. The airport is 32 km (20 miles) southwest of the city so you will need to think about transportation into the city ahead of time.
Once we arrived at the Rome airport (called either Leonardo da Vinci International Airport or Rome Fiumicino Airport – same airport/two names), we had no issues gathering our suitcases (we travel light) and we went searching for our ground transportation.
Having traveled through some of the world’s largest and busiest airports, I found Rome to be a breeze. It was smaller and, although a very busy international airport, it was easy to navigate around.
The airport’s website provides current arrival/departure times and gates as well as information about ground transportation. Be sure to check it out – you can change the language of the website at the top of the page.
There is a train station called Roma San Pietro. This is a train station for regional trains, on the line that runs from Roma Termini up the west coast of Italy to Civitavecchia. So, only regional trains stop here (i.e., not "premium" trains, like the InterCity or Freccia-whatever).
This train station is open to the public because it is about 400 meters south of the walls of Vatican City. It serves all the residential areas on the south side of the Vatican.
From this station two train lines lead to the "north". One runs out of town on the way to Civitavecchia, the other is the short spur that runs over the Vatican city walls and terminates in a giant metal gate. This spur leads to the train station that is inside Vatican City, which is not accessible to the public. Indeed, there is no scheduled service to this latter station, it being used only for the transportation of supplies into the City, and the very occasional important passenger.
When you use www.trenitalia.com for schedules, be sure to enter "Roma San Pietro" to get this exact station. This is the train station you would use closest to the Vatican if you were coming in from out of town - St. Peter's is about a 10-12 minute walk from here.
Look at my other transportation tip for a photo of the station inside the Vatican.
Vatican City is located a short distance to the west of Rome city centre.
During our visit in October 2012, we stayed in a hotel on Via Cola di Rienzo and were able to walk to St Peter's Square and the Basilica in around 10 minutes.
However, even if you are staying in the centre of Rome, the Vatican can easily be visited by using public transport.
The closest Metro station to St Peter's Square is Ottaviano San Pietro which is located on Line A (the red line) and is just 6 stops (around 10 minutes) from Termini station. Ottaviano San Pietro station is located to the north of the Vatican and is around a 10 minute walk from St Peter's Square.
If you're visiting the Vatican Museums, then the next stop along the Metro line (Cipro-Musei Vaticani) is the most convenient one.
The closest train station to the Vatican is Rome San Pietro which is located a short distance to the south of the Vatican.
We noticed lots of tour buses parked up along Via della Conciliazione, the road that directly leads to St Peter's Square.
When we first arrived in Rome, we caught an airport bus that advertised a drop off in the "Vatican area". This turned out to be on Via Crescenzio, close to Piazza Cavour, about 15-20 minutes walk east of St Peter's Square.
I thought it excellent that the Train from Civitavecchia was actually on the Vatican city line. This made it so easy to visit.
On alighting from the Train, it was a short walk down a hill and we were at the walls of the Vatican. All we had to do was keep the Vatican Dome in sight, and follow our nose! Easy!
Rome's tram network could hardly be described as extensive, but it does at least stop at Piazza Risorgimento, which is only a couple of blocks walk to the Vatican.
It takes a somewhat circuitous route back to the centre of town. (and it involves a change if you want to get to the train station), but it is certainly more scenic than the Metro, and less hassle than the bus.
You can get to the Vatican City by just about any mode you would like as all bus, metro and taxi stop close by.
We however prefer to walk. Walking in town is a good way to see some of the smaller streets and you do learn to take shortcuts after a few days in Rome.
We flew into Rome via Alitalia and joined our tour there. We took a cab to the Vatican from the hotel, but when we came out there were so many little mini buses, it took sometime to find a 'regular' cab that would take us back to the hotel, so skip the mini buses and look for a regular cab.
By Train : If you go via the subway you can visit the Vatican Museums first. (A line - Cipro is the closest stop although not all trains stop there. The Ottaviano stop is only a couple of blocks farther from the Museums.
By Bus : If you take a bus to St. Peter's square you may want to visit the church first if its not early in the morning. The walk between the Museums and the square is only about 15 minutes. Better, take a bus to Piazza di Risorgimento if one is convenient to you; the Piazza is just a few hundred yards from the Museums entrance.
Being the smallest State in the world (its area is less than 0,5 km²) I am afraid the only option to be considered is walking. But be ready to walk A LOT in and around the Basilika, the Museums and along the Via della Conciliazione, which under the unclement Roman sun may sometimes be not so nice.
Getting to Vatican City can be done by car, cab, or sometimes train. Fly, drive, or train into Rome, and take a cab or walk into Vatican City. The border between Vatican City and Rome is not guarded, and only the presence of the Swiss Guard and the yellow and white Vatican flag will tell you that you have crossed an international boundary. Vatican City does have a train station, but it is not generally accessible to any other than Vatican residents.
Walking is your only option. Enterance to the Vatican Museum is several blocks down the Vatican walls outside and to the right of St. Peter's Square. The rest of Vatican City is easily accessible, though the Gardens are strictly limited to guided tours. Only Vatican officials and honored guests may drive within Vatican City, and the train station is for Vatican residents only.
Take the Metro (Line A - red). However, there are two stops, so be aware that the first Vatican stop (from Termini) is the entrance to St. Peter's while the second stop is near the entrance to the Vatican Museum. It's about a 15 minute walk around the wall from one to the other, so get off at the right stop for what you want to do.
The Vatican is not large. Once inside you can reach everywhere you'd want to visit on foot.
I don't think there's any transportation here in Vatican, Vatican Express? No way. I don't see any cars or bikes either, don't understand how they can deal with it...lol. Anyway this is a photo I took from the window somewhere in the Vatican corridor full of murals, golden leaves and all those flying objects, don't ask me, I don't know what it is, just enjoy Vatican.
I visited the Vatican during one of my trips to Italy. If you want to read more about my trip to Italy you should visit my Italy page.
Vatican City is in Rome, so you can use any Roman mode of transportation to get there. Note that I do mean "get there" - once you are in Vatican City, you'll walk.
To see how to arrive by...